Japan's Transport Ministry on Friday said inspections at five of six plants making Nissan cars found stamps of certified technicians on documents signing off checks by non-certified technicians on vehicles for the domestic market.
Transport Minister Keiichi Ishii told a news conference the uncertified technicians at Nissan included contract workers, and that the violations were causing "anxiety for users and shaking the foundation of the certification system."
In Japan, vehicles destined for the domestic market must undergo an additional final procedure performed by certified technicians before being registered with the transport ministry. The ministry was working to discern whether and how widely the practice was known, Ishii added.
The transport ministry's findings prompted the car company to recall all 1.2 million passenger cars produced between October 2014 and September 2017. They include top sellers such as the Serena minivan and the Note compact hatchback.
All recalled vehicles would undergo re-inspections for final checks on issues including steering radius and braking and acceleration capabilities, at a cost of around 25 billion yen ($222 million, 189 million euros), Nissan said. "We must take the registration framework and procedures seriously, regardless of how busy we may be or how short-staffed we may be," CEO Hiroto Saikawa told reporters at a media conference. "We apologize for the inconvenience caused to our customers," he added.
The recall doesn't include Nissan-branded mini-vehicles, which are produced by Mitsubishi Motors. Passenger car sales in Japan account for roughly 10 percent of Nissan's global sales. Lasat year, Nissan exported around 560,000 vehicles produced in Japan to North America, Europe and other markets. But Nissan spokesman Nick Maxfield said there was no difference in quality between cars made in Japan for the domestic market and those made for export.
The recall is the second major misconduct incident involving a Japanese automaker in as many years, after Mitsubishi admitted in April 2016 it had falsified the fuel economy for some of its domestic market models.
uhe/tr (Reuters, AFP)